A poster campaign called "Inspired by Muhammad" was recently launched in London as a direct response to the negative views much of the public holds about the impact of Islam on Britain today. It aims to educate non-Muslims about what Islam really preaches and religious Muslims believe in.
You can see why such a PR job is necessary. A recent YouGov poll suggested that well over half of respondents believed, for example, that Islam encouraged the repression of women. I wonder why the remaining 40 per cent have a different view.
The poster in question depicts a human rights barrister wearing a gown and hijab, with the strapline: "I believe in women's rights. So did Muhammad."
I have no doubt that this particular woman does believe that she should be equal to men. After all, what professional, successful person working in the field of human rights would say they didn't?
In a short film on the website, we hear another woman telling us how pro-feminist Muhammad was. Her evidence? He married a woman older and wealthier than himself and believed in the education of females as well as males. There is no mention of sexual violence.
As a feminist, I will continue to work alongside Muslim and non-Muslim women who refuse to believe this type of hype and refuse to sell down the river women living under Islamic rule in order to appease male elders. The reality for many Muslim women living in religious communities is having to endure female genital mutilation, "honour" killings, forced marriage and child marriage, compulsory Islamic dress codes, the lashing and stoning of women who have sex outside marriage, and family laws which deem women the property of their fathers, brothers and husbands. No slick poster campaign can hide the fact that countless women in this country today are being subjugated in the name of Muhammad. Instead of airbrushing women's oppression we should join the likes of the inspirational Ayaan Hirsi Ali in exposing the truth about women's oppression.
I recently interviewed for this magazine a number of white Western women who had chosen to convert to Islam. Theirs were not happy stories. Many of them had been fed precisely the kind of guff peddled through this campaign.
The aim of "Inspired by Muhammad" is to "improve the public understanding of Islam and Muslims". A better use of money would be to educate the public about the human rights atrocities against women that occur every day in this country and elsewhere in the world in the name of Islam.
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